Can you Track Airtag Miles Away? (We did the Research)

Marc Ray

by Marc Ray

Last Updated on

Quick Answer

Yes, you can easily track your AirTag miles away, even on the other side of the world. AirTags uses the network of 1.5 billion Apple devices around the globe to update its location in the “Find My” app, which you can then use to track it easily. So, as long as an Apple device is nearby or someone with an Apple device like an iPhone or iPad has passed by near your AirTag, you can track it easily!

There is a chance you are using an AirTag to track your car, but you might be questioning the possibility of tracking your vehicle from miles away in case it gets stolen.

In this guide, I will answer this question and prove my points with all the research and experiments I have conducted so far!

Can you Track Apple AirTag Miles Away?

If an Apple device is within Bluetooth range of your AirTag, you can track it from miles away using Apple’s Find My app.

An AirTag may continuously interact with any iPhone within Bluetooth range (25 ft.–35 ft.), determine its location, and transmit that information to Apple’s servers.

An AirTag will probably come into contact with one of the over a billion Apple devices that are part of the Find My network, and as a result, its position will be updated in the app every 3-5 minutes.

With this information in mind, let me share my research with you about how the technology behind AirTag works.

Technology behind AirTag

Source: HARUKI

Unlike other tracking devices, AirTag has no GPS installed.

However, it uses Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) and Ultra-Wideband technology to communicate with nearby Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads, and Macs to update its location on Apple’s network.

The Bluetooth range of an AirTag is around 25-35 feet, and the range to track an AirTag is unlimited as long as it is within the Bluetooth range of an Apple device on the Find My network.

The Find My network is estimated to have over one billion devices worldwide that detect and anonymously report emitted Bluetooth signals.

Using this technology, you can track your AirTag miles away or even in a different country, provided it is within Bluetooth range of an Apple device on the Find My network.

The Role of BlueTooth Inside AirTag

The AirTag emits a Bluetooth signal that nearby Apple devices can detect in the “Find My” network and updates the location of the AirTag on the “Find My” servers.

The Role of BlueTooth Inside AirTag

This entire process is anonymous and encrypted to protect the user’s privacy. The AirTag’s location is triangulated based on the strength of the Bluetooth signal sent to those third-party devices.

The Role of UWB Tech Inside AirTag

Ultra-wideband (UWB) technology is a key feature of Apple AirTag that enables it to locate the device more precisely.

UWB is a wireless communication technology that uses radio frequencies ranging from 3.1 to 10.6 GHz. Although this technology has been around for over 20 years, Apple’s implementation of UWB in AirTag is unique and Apple-centric.

The Role of UWB Tech Inside AirTag

The UWB technology in AirTag allows it to communicate with nearby Apple devices with built-in U1 chips, such as the iPhone 11 and later models.

The UWB technology in AirTag enables the Precision Finding feature, which uses UWB to provide more accurate location information.

How does an AirTag work?

AirTag works in five phases; first, it broadcasts a signal, then the signal gets discovered by the nearby Apple devices, and these devices report the location of the signal to the Apple cloud, where the owner can find the last known location on the maps. Lastly, the owner can get to the last known location and use the “Precision Finding” to retrieve their AirTag.

Five phases on how Airtag works

Let’s get into tiny details.

1. Broadcasting Phase

The AirTag continuously broadcasts a unique rotating identifier using BLE. This identifier is encrypted and changes periodically to ensure user privacy.

2. Discovery Phase

Nearby Apple devices (like iPhones, iPads, or Macs) can detect this BLE signal. These devices don’t know whose AirTag it is; they just recognize the signal as coming from an AirTag.

3. Reporting Phase

The Apple devices that detect the AirTag’s signal send its location (derived from their signals) to Apple’s servers, along with the detected AirTag’s identifier. This process is done anonymously to ensure user privacy.

4. Location Retrieval Phase

The owner of the AirTag can open the “Find My” app on their device to see the last known location of their AirTag. The “Find My” app communicates with Apple servers to retrieve the location of their AirTag based on the reports from other Apple devices.

The “Find My” app will show the user the exact direction and distance to the AirTag in real time.

5. Precision Finding (UWB)

Once the user gets to the last known location of the AirTag, they can use their iPhone with a U1 chip (like iPhone 11 and later) to find a more precise location to retrieve it.

UWB provides much more accurate distance and direction measurements than “Find My app” but has a very short range, 80 feet in an open field and about 50 feet in an urban area.

How Far can you Track an Airtag? (AirTag Range Explained)

We have conducted several tests to conclude how far can you track AirTag using UWB technology.

Although you can track the AirTag anywhere in the world using the “Find My app,” when you get to the exact location, your only helper is “Precision Finding” to retrieve the AirTag.

So, we had to test the reliability of UWB technology inside the AirTag.

We put the AirTag to our keys and conducted several tests outdoors and indoors to find the tracking range of an AirTag in an open field or an urban area with tens of concrete buildings and even inside our apartment.

Expected tracking range of AirTags using UWB

Outdoors: According to the tests, the AirTag has a range of around 80-90 field in an open area like a park and 45-55 feet when there are a lot of buildings while using the “Precision Finding.”

Here is a chart that shows you our test results for tracking AirTag using UWB outdoors:

AirTag Location Accuracy Outdoor Testing

Our indoor tracking results are a bit different. We conducted these tests in various real-life scenarios.

We tried to track it from the other side of the glass, the other side of the dry walls, the other side of the concrete walls, and a few others. You can see the results in this chart:

AirTag indoor location accuracy: How far can it go?

Obstacles that Influence the AirTags’ UWB Range

After conducting several experiments, we have generated a list of obstacles that can influence the AirTag’s UWB range:

Obstacles that Influence the AirTags' UWB Range
  • Physical barriers such as walls, furniture, and other objects.
  • Interference from other wireless signals in the area, such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals.
  • UWB signal strength.
  • Distance between the AirTag and the user’s device.
  • AirTag’s battery life.
  • Environmental factors when tracking outdoors.
  • The metal body of a car.

How to Locate your AirTag using “Find My app” and UWB?

So, I have shared all the information regarding AirTags, including how they work and what kind of technology they have.

Now, let me guide you on tracking your AirTag using Apple’s “Find My” app.

  1. Unlock your iPhone and open the “Find My” app.
  2. Tap “Items” at the bottom of the screen.
Tap "Items" at the bottom of the screen.
  1. Select the one you want to track if you have multiple AirTags in your account.
  2. Tap the “Directions” icon to let the app guide you through the route to your AirTag.

Once you tap the “Directions,” the app will show you a map to get you to the exact location of your AirTag.

Once you get there, tap “Find Nearby” to open the “Precision Finding” tool inside the “Find My” app.

That is how you locate your AirTag!

How to Enable Lost Mode on AirTag, and what does it do?

It’s painful to lose track of important belongings, but with Apple’s genius AirTag technology, you can rest easy knowing that you’re just a few taps away from recovering them.

Follow these step-by-step details to recover your belongings if they have an AirTag attached to them:

  1. Open your AirTag from the Items option in the “Find My” app.
  2. Scroll all the way down to “Lost Mode” and tap the “Enable” button.
Scroll all the way down to "Lost Mode" and tap the "Enable" button.
  1. A prompt box will appear; tap “Continue.”
A prompt box will appear; tap "Continue."
  1. Enter your “Phone number” on the next screen.
  2. Also, add a message you want to add for someone who may find your AirTag.
  3. Tap “Activate.”
  4. Enable “Notify when found.”
Enable "Notify when found."

That’s it. You have enabled the Lost mode on your AirTag.

Now, when someone (with an iPhone) finds your AirTag, they can see your phone number and the message after tapping their iPhone into the AirTag.

Last Thoughts on Can You Track Airtag Miles Away

In conclusion, Apple’s AirTag is a fantastic tracking device that uses a global network of Apple devices to enable tracking of lost items even across oceans.

AirTag precisely updates its location on the Find My network by communicating with neighboring Apple devices using Bluetooth and Ultra-Wideband technologies that can help you track your AirTag from miles away.

We investigated AirTag’s five-phase operation and underlying technology, including the parts played by Bluetooth and UWB. We also evaluated its capability of tracking moving targets and found it performed best in unobstructed areas.

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About the author

Marc Ray

Marc Ray

Marc Ray, Founder of Domotics101.com. A tech enthusiast & expert in smart home technology, helping homeowners upgrade their homes with the latest smart home security & automation solutions. Marc has over 10 years of experience in smart home technology. He holds a certification in Home Automation Systems and has been featured in Hubspot. You can learn more about Marc and his work. Read his Book, Smart Home Hacks!

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